If you haven't already done so, take a few moments to read through the first three entries of the Soul Surgery series to catch up on the history I've shared from a recent personal experience. Go ahead...I'll wait.
Post-operation procedures are vital for a patient to heal. There have been plenty of patients who have undergone life-saving surgeries and procedures, given a second chance at life, only to ignore the guidance of the surgeon and self-sabotage once again. The doctor says "rest" and the patient forges ahead and drowns themselves back into a mall-walker work pace. Surgeon's orders include "follow this daily regimen of stretching exercises", but the patient takes in too many episodes of HGTV and avoids the discomfort of the rehab plan.
Sometimes post-operation procedures can be more painful than the pre-op symptoms that drove the patient to the surgeon's table! Inevitably there is a day (or 20) that one thinks, "Was this really worth this?" I referenced in my last entry, Surrender to Surgery, that in the thick of that soul surgery it seemed God was taking something from me. But in reality, and in hindsight, I realized He was actually giving birth to something inside of me, one of the greatest results of that surgery being Sanctuary. But even in birth there are some pains and recovery procedures.
I can recall vividly in postpartum, after the births of each of our daughters, grappling with thoughts like, "Why did we do this? Weren't we happy before?" I was holding in my arms the most incredible gift I'd ever received. But it came with a responsibility I was in no way prepared for. (And really, is anyone prepared for that responsibility?) And along with that birth came a series of those recovery procedures.
It's quite possible that you, my friend, are in the middle of a soul surgery of your own and are desperate for it to be over. And I don't blame you. But as we close this series let me remind you: you are responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure that this surgery wasn't awash. In other words, now's the time to make it count! If you're going to walk through the struggle of this season, don't avoid the healing process required to ensure you capitalize on those complicated but vital days of post-op.
Here are a few takeaways I learned from the last major soul operation with the Master Surgeon:
There aren't shortcuts. If you come through the surgery, don't expect to bypass the recovery. Let the Holy Spirit thoroughly heal your heart and renew your strength so that the surgery wasn't in vain. Require yourself to do the work of recovery, knowing that a heart that is healed is a heart that will heal others.
Stick close to the Healer. You may find a song that represents this season for you. Many times I would create a playlist in my phone and it became like healing balm to my soul each time I'd take my morning walk. The work of the Holy Spirit can't be bottled up and sold but it's free for the asking. And you'll need to ask. You'll need to give Him permission to apply the final touches, making that scar a thing of beauty for you to share with others in the future. Find what keeps you drawing close to Him. Is it nature? Is it music? Is it being with certain people or being alone?
Feed yourself. You've quoted it a million times: Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. But when you're in recovery-mode, it seems like work to read the Word and pray. You're exhausted. You want to tune out and mindlessly scroll social media or the channel guide. That simply won't help you heal. Sure, rest is a good idea. And rest without guilt is even better. But don't leave out the Word. As you read the Word, say it out loud. You need to hear it with your own ears. There's exponential power that comes from having the Word in your mouth and then hearing it with your ears! You're changing the atmosphere on the outside AND on the inside, girl!
Get rid of the toxins. Consider a journal that has no limits. I had to give myself permission to write things down, and then pray that no one read them. I also had to give myself permission to have a journal without the guilt of needing to daily write in it. I love to write. But it became a burden when I required it of myself. (Is that crazy?) Have a safe space where you can store those thoughts--the ones you don't care to actually own are yours--and then release them to the Lord. Sometimes I go back to read some of those "limit-less journals" and shutter a little. But in the moment, that's where I was. And guess what? God was there in the midst of it and assured me: I know you're just dust, girl. Write it, release it, and walk on to your next victory.
Get ready to move. Once you've taken time to let the surgeon do His work and then followed the post-op procedures, don't be surprised when He says "get up". Just when I was settling in to this beautiful R & R mode, no longer kicking against His orders to settle in, rest, and reboot, the Lord set things in motion for me to get up and get moving. And I have yet to find time to truly look back! So many things I gained from that soul surgery are what sustain and empower me in my current everyday.
Where are you at today? Regardless of your spot on this soul surgery journey, you can know that sometimes a "return to home" card is drawn and it feels like you've got to repeat the steps you've already taken in this game of life. But the beautiful thing about it all is you're not walking this journey alone. Oh, yes, the Holy Spirit is right there, like a faithful nurse, guiding you to whole-ness and healing. And then there's a cheer section of ministry wives right here at Sanctuary, anxious to answer the SOS call when you need an extra boost. But you'll have to call on us. When you do, we'll be right there, ready to get you back in the game (or meet you at Let's Retreat!). Let's redefine Sanctuary.
Post-Op Procedures is Entry FOUR in Sanctuary's Soul Surgery series, featured throughout the month of March 2020. Where ARE you at today? Headed into soul surgery? On the Surgeon's table? Or facing the post-op procedures? Share with us in the comments below.
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, is a wife, mother of two girls, and 'minister of the et cetera' alongside her husband, Chresten from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She loves a great cup of steaming hot tea, the blessing of quiet spaces where she can think now and again, and the art of a handwritten note. While she's a vocalist, speaker, writer, and administrator, Bridgette's heart is fully engaged in connecting every woman to their God-given call and gifts with authentic candor. You can follow her blog from their ministry site.